For the west African scripts of Bamum and N’ko, full romanization guidelines for the use of library catalogers have been evolving for some time. Here are a couple of preliminary versioned iterations toward what should become, after due review from the Library of Congress and the American Library Association, stable guidelines supportable in the context of American libraries. The timeframe for review will likely take up most of the rest of this year, first internally at the Library of Congress, then with a period open for public comment. The Coptic romanization table is up for a final vote in committee, and if approved at ALA Midwinter over the weekend, will find its place among tables currently in use.
“La principale difficulté pour vulgariser la physique quantique, c’est qu’on ne sait pas très bien comment en fabriquer des images dans notre monde. C’est en ce sens qu’elle est vraiment contre-intuitive.“ –Alain Aspect, quantum physicist and former teacher at ENS in Yaoundé, Cameroon. (“The principal difficulty in popularizing quantum physics, it’s that we don’t really know how to create images of it in our world. It’s in this sense that it is truly counter-intuitive.”)
As mentioned in an earlier post, OCLC has been expanding its support for African languages in recent months. Here is a friendly guide to some of the special characters that are commonly found in practical orthographies of African print materials. Please have a look, and do not hesitate to post your questions!
>A small raft of documents have been produced lately as the library cataloging community heads toward implementation of new cataloging instructions and data models. Here is one attempt at a visualization of the changes that are happening, although it doesn’t show everything and there are doubtless far better ways to illustrate it. Nevertheless, here we go.
(Brief guide for the perplexed: Numbers in circles 1-3 refer to classes of FRBR entities; circle 4 is for Annotations. The BIBFRAME initiative would, depending on how you look at it, either split class 1 or merge entities from within it, while classes 2 and 3 are merged and would link to authority records via, e.g., URIs. The column running down the middle with lines out from it represents what catalogers already work with, MARC, but shows how it aligns with FRBR entities following Tom Delsey’s 2006 report for NDMSO.)
(For the still perplexed: This is an overview of the structure of legacy library data, with a newly proposed abstraction layer that surrounds it, rather than merely replacing the data format alone.)
Update: A version that will hopefully serve as more user-friendly, albeit a bit more rough, here.
Some good news to pass along in the runup to ALA later this week:
1.) The OCLC report to the Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials includes a note reiterating a statement given at ALC in Madison back in April:
“OCLC is making plans to add additional scripts during fiscal year 2013, including support for some African scripts.”
This is good news! It will allow us to provide more accuracy in the bibliographic data we produce, linking more easily to fully digitized text, and improve access for users, through the use of Extended Latin and Ethiopic.
2.) In the first set of five campaigns launched by Unglue.it (an initiative led by Eric Hellman, formerly of OCLC), at the top of the list for republication is Ruth Finnegan’s 1970 classic “Oral Literature in Africa”, which is so far drawing in
89 91 101 (!) % of the pledges it will need for its goal to be met. The campaign closes in three days; if successful, it would mean free distribution of electronic copies of Finnegan’s work (558 p.), along with associated audio. Please consider joining the effort to ‘unglue‘ it with your support!
State of Intrigue, the title selected by Tayiru Banbera and David Conrad for recounting the Epic of Ségou, has perhaps never been more apt. David Easterbrook at Northwestern forwarded an appeal for preservation of the manuscripts in Timbuktu to the ALC list yesterday.
Baba Mamadi Diané’s map of Guinea in N’ko script was posted earlier on this site; he also produced one for Mali:
For reference, an unofficial English translation of the declaration of independence of Azawad (ⴰⵣⴰⵓⴰⴷ), with a referring link to the original in French, can be found here.
The announcement for RDA implementation came out last week. We offer here some links to manifestations of various works to tune into, as you’re analyzing creation and production processes and the relations between entities therein.
One of the routine duties for catalogers of African materials is to review authority files on subject headings through participation in the SACO (Subject Authority COoperative) funnel, researching reference materials to decide whether there is warrant to revise an existing heading or establish a new one.
In the case of subject headings for languages, this ideally occurs in tandem with proposals to the classification schedule, such that a call number value assigned in the 053 for the authority heading for a language will likewise be proposed in ClassWeb.
Occasionally, it happens that the references themselves are being updated to reflect results from current field research. This is the case recently with two Mande languages: Gbin and Zialo, studied and re-analyzed by Denis Paperno and Kirill Babaev, respectively. Gbin, now extinct, was documented by Maurice Delafosse but, until now, has been accounted for only as a cross-reference for the Beng language, and did not have an individual language code assigned to it in Ethnologue. That will change soon. Zialo was considered to have been a peripheral dialect of Loma, but Babaev’s work shows it to have lexical and morphological characteristics that are closer to Bandi and Mende. It received a new code, zil, in ISO 639-3 after the most recent print version of the Ethnologue (16th, 2009) was published, and has had an authority record in LCSH since 2011.
Current links to a handful of resources with links to books in African languages, some digitized and some born digital:
SIL Bibliography (Country Index: Africa).
Check back for more; we’ll be eager to see this list grow!